JACKSON TWP. - As the final seconds of regulation ticked away, the Christian Brothers Academy soccer team was faced with some good news and bad news.

The bad news was that its two-goal lead on Jackson Memorial in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals disappeared in the final five minutes of regulation thanks to two penalty kicks. What seemed like a surefire win was all of a sudden a match hanging in the balance.

The good news was in the event of a shootout round, goalkeeper A.J. Pinto was already in penalty-kick mode.

After falling victim to two penalty kicks in the last five minutes, CBA recovered to make all four attempts in the shootout round and advance past the third-seeded Jackson Memorial with a 4-1 edge on penalties.

CBA celebrates its penalty-kicks win over Jackson Memorial. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
CBA celebrates its penalty-kicks win over Jackson Memorial. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"It was bizarre - somewhat unexplainable," CBA coach Tom Mulligan said. "I'm not sure what happened, but it happened. My team showed some resiliency, some grit and we stuck together. I thought we had some nice chances in overtime but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. At the end of the day, we had a hard-fought, well-deserved victory to move on to the semifinals."

With CBA leading 2-0, Jackson Memorial was awarded a penalty kick for a hold in the box on a free kick with just under five minutes to play. Senior Chase Olejarz missed the ensuing attempt but was awarded a retry when CBA senior goalkeeper A.J. Pinto was called for stepping forward before the attempt.

Pinto's penalty kick routine involves sudden, side-to-side movement as the shooter approaches the ball and the official on the line determined that Pinto took a step toward Olejarz on the first Jackson Memorial penalty attempt.

"I like to clap, stomp, move side-to-side to try to give the shooter something to think about," Pinto said. "You never know what can happen on a penalty kick.

"I'm not sure what I did differently from the other times I have done it, but that's what the ref saw. That's why he is there on the goal-line - to see if I moved. That was his thought on the play and I'm not going to complain about it. I just wanted to talk to him about it to make sure I don't do the wrong thing the next time."

As it turned out, there would be multiple next times. Olejarz made his re-kick to cut the deficit in half and a little more than four minutes later, Jackson Memorial got its equalizer. The Jaguars ran long-throw specialist Zach Rogacki onto the field and he whipped a throw into the box that resulted in a handball.

This time, senior Ben Schnaak took the penalty kick and buried it down the middle to tie the game.

"We were frustrated with the calls but we kept fighting," senior midfielder Michael Casper said. "We trusted each other and we got the win."

Neither team wove together a dangerous sequence in overtime until the 99th minute, when CBA senior Luke Pascarella slipped a ball through to classmate Joe Costa. Coasta got a step on the last Jackson Memorial defender by hit a left-footed shot wide as he went to the ground.

The two sides moved to the shootout and Jackson Memorial missed its first two attempts. On both approaches, Pinto did his usual routine after discussing it with the official who called him for the violation. The first attempt was by Olejarz, which was Pinto's third look at his penalty kick.

"When I walked over to the goal for the shootout, I was able to speak to the official and clarify the rules and what I was doing so I knew exactly what I could do," Pinto said. "He explained it to me and I was able to do it the right way."

While Jackson Memorial struggled to convert, all four CBA shooters - Pascarella, Jack Longo, Brett Sieg and Michael Casper - connected, with Casper ending the penalty kick round with his finish.

CBA senior Chris Vollrath celebrates his goal in the 70th minute. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
CBA senior Chris Vollrath celebrates his goal in the 70th minute. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"I think getting my feet wet was important," Pinto said. "Seeing those two penalties, I felt warm and loose and ready to go. Unfortunately, penalties come down to luck in a way but there is also skill involved. We were fortunate they missed but our guys stepped up and buried them."

The two teams made it to the 70th minute without a score before CBA broke through on a finish by junior Shane Borenius. Costa crossed the ball from the left side to the near post, where senior Chris Vollrath flicked it across the front of the net to Borenius on the back post. The junior shot it off a Jackson Memorial defender and in from point-blank range for the 1-0 CBA lead.

The Colts appeared to put the game on ice in the 73rd, when Vollrath pounced on a dropped cross in the box, initially sent in by sophomore Declan Kelly. Vollrath got his foot on the ball before it hit the ground for his fourth goal in CBA's last four games.

"He wasn't a starter to begin the season and he has his limitations, but the skillset he brings is something that we don't really have up top," Mulligan said of Vollrath. "He puts a little bit of chaos into the defense. He puts extra pressure on them - he can get behind defenders and he has been a asset for us the second half of the season."

Tuesday's game was reminiscent of last year's SCT semifinal game between these two teams. Jackson Memorial tied the game at 1-1 on a penalty kick in the second half and CBA won it on a golden goal from Pascarella.

CBA will take on Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday. Last year, CBA beat Manasquan in the quarterfinals and Jackson Memorial in overtime in the semifinals to reach the championship game and will try to do the reverse to make it back-to-back finals appearances.

"In order to win a championship at any level, you have to play against really good competitors," Mulligan said. "You're not just going to walk into a championship playing a bunch of people that don't also want to win. So we had to come in and beat a really good Jackson team and you are always going to have to win a close game or two in order to win a championship."


Box Score

CBA 2, Jackson Memorial 2 (CBA advances on penalties, 4-1)

CBA (10-3-2)020024
Jackson Mem (12-2-1)020021

Goals (Assists): (CBA) Shane Borenius (Chris Vollrath) 70', Chris Vollrath (Declan Kelly) 73'; (J) Chase Olejarz (PK) 76', Ben Schnaak (PK) 99'
Shots: CBA, 12-10
Saves: (CBA) A.J. Pinto 4; (J) Charlie Harrison 4
Penalty Kicks: (CBA) Luke Pascarella, Jack Longo, Brett Sieg, Michael Casper; (JM) Connor Lucas

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